Cardiff Metropolitan University
7920 - Susan Allan.pdf (10.56 MB)

Observing, understanding and developing learning dispositions in an early years centre.

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posted on 2022-10-27, 16:23 authored by Susan Allan


This longitudinal study investigated young children's learning within an early years

education and care environment. The qualitative research design adopted an action

research approach. The research methodology included; parent and staff semistructured

and structured interviews, staff questionnaires, child observations and

interviews. A key term in the research was that of learning dispositions to describe

children's attitudes, actions and approaches to learning

The study paid particular attention to children's voice, to professional debate and the

learning environment and to how these support the development of reflective

practitioners and reflexive practice. This research aimed to link learning theory and

child development with early years practice in a naturalistic setting. As a professional

doctorate it linked research project design and implementation with pedagogic

planning and practice over a three year period. The researcher played a pivotal role as

the manager of the study setting.

During the research an observational framework, the child learning disposition'

observation tool (CLDOT), was developed. This was used to complete a series of

child learning disposition observations (CLDOs). These observations identified

children's learning dispositions and whether they adapted them to the different

learning environments of inside or outside, adult-led or child-led activities. These

observations then became part of the learning disposition activity (LDA) cycle. The

LDA cycle gave staff a practical and objective process through which they could:

think about children's learning and use this in the planning process; observe the

children's leaming comparing planning to practice; and deepen the reflections of

practitioners and involve children in the process. The LDA instigated improvements

to pedagogy and provided all involved in the research with a shared vocabulary and

understanding of learning in the early years.

As such, the study makes a contribution to the education debate about what is the

right start for our youngest children at this most precious time: their early years.



  • School of Education and Social Policy

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD

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